Anambra, Time to Protect APGA

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Amanze Ubochi

“If recent developments in APGA are anything to go by, then, some of my fears are fast becoming real.
“The coming into being of APGA in the first place as a political party did not go down well with those who thought the Igbo had finished as far as having a party the people could look up to in the entity called Nigeria was concerned.

“The notion was, and still is, that the Igbo lack the capacity to organise themselves into one common umbrella for the purpose of furthering their interest. And as God would have it, APGA, despite the thought of men, flowered and made tremendous impact that most ethnic nationalities in the country have, today, come to see the party as the face of the Igbo….

“Who does not know that (Peter) Obi’s spirit had long deserted APGA for PDP and that he wants his tenure to run out fast, so that he can formally declare for PDP? After all, he demonstrated his ‘membership’ of PDP in 2011 when Jonathan was running for the Presidency by the number of times he attended the PDP rallies with the President.
“Which other opposition party governor could have behaved that way and still retains his office let alone being in the same party and calling the shots?

“I think Obi has further shown that he is not the messiah the Igbo of today need, having not recognised where he and those he is leading started getting drenched, and that there is a limit to which he can be trusted with power and the future of the people.
“I wish he knows how Ojukwu is feeling in his grave….
“It is fast becoming clear that all the noise being made on the pages of newspapers about APGA crisis is simply an attempt to …. destroy the party and pave the way for the PDP and its ineffective leadership at the centre to have a firm hold on Anambra come 2014 when there will be another election in the state.

“Of course, Anambra is not the only reason for what they are doing, as they are as well out to rout the entire South East by making it an all PDP zone.
“Whatever dimension the plots against APGA may be…. no effort will be spared to stop anybody from using or destroying APGA for ….selfish interest. As long as God lives, the sins of all those who have constituted themselves into Judas Iscariot in APGA will find them out.”

The above excerpt written by yours sincerely five years ago (August 2012) entitled: APGA: How will posterity judge Obi? is still relevant in today’s political calculation with regard to the coming Anambra State governorship contest.
The final battle for who becomes the governor of Anambra State is barely three weeks away. November 18, the day for the election is almost here. Everybody is preparing for the day as if there will not be another November 18 in history. The reason is simple: Politics is the only industry that is functional in Nigeria today hence those who control the levers of power determine the existentiality of their fellow beings after God because they control the common patrimony.

The flag-off of the campaigns and the electioneering proper have seen all the candidates, both the pretenders and the serious ones traversing the nooks and crannies of the 21 local government areas that make up Anambra.
For the records, the battle for votes would be fought at the following local government areas – Aguata, Anambra East, Anambra West, Anaocha, Awka North, Awka South, Ayamelum, Dunukofia, Ekwusigo, Idemili North, Idemili South, Ihiala, Njikoka, Nnewi North, Nnewi South, Ogbaru, Onitsha North, Onitsha South, Orumba North, Orumba South and Oyi. They constitute the three senatorial zones in Anambra.

Going by the provisions of the Electoral Act 2014 (As Amended) which the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is bound to implement, any candidate that wins one quarter of all the votes cast in all the local government areas automatically gets elected as the governor and in the case of Anambra, such person will proceed to occupy the Agu Awka Government House come March 17, 2018 swearing-in day.

The obviously serious candidates to watch in the race include the incumbent governor, Willie Obiano of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA); Tony Nwoye, All Progressives Congress (APC); Oseloka Obaze, People’s Democratic Party (PDP); Godwin Ezeemo, Progressives Peoples’ Alliance (PPA); Osita Chidoka, United Peoples Party (UPP); Oby Okafor, Advanced Congress of Democrats (ACD) and Henry Ikechukwu Onuorah, Peoples Party of Nigeria (PPN).

A look at the above candidates will reveal a pack of highly qualified contenders, but in politics, qualification is not always taken into consideration. And that is part of the reasons for this intervention.
For those who do not know, Anambra means a lot to the South East zone in particular and in general, to Nigeria. Whatever happens in Anambra, positively or negatively, reverberates in other parts of the South East.

Also, because of the itinerant nature of the Igbo due to their industry and commercial mindedness, any positive or negative event that happens in Anambra would automatically be felt in other parts of the country.
Suffice to say that one state that nobody can afford to toy with in Nigeria because of the high level of political awareness of the indigenes, their educational prowess, their international exposure to business (trade and commerce) as well as their depth of knowledge in socio-cultural and religious matters is Anambra.

Since Nigeria’s return to civil rule in 1999, Anambra has remained one of the few states in the country that you can be sure has not got it wrong in terms of who governs the people.
Regardless of the prevalence of political godfathers in the state who also see in politics a ting of business and want to profit from it, the highly informed people of Anambra (mainly the intelligentsia) always go for the technocrats to pilot their affairs. Perhaps that explains why the state has remained on the radar of upward growth in terms of availability of infrastructure in almost every sector.

Though the eras of Chinwoke Mbadinuju and Chris Ngige were the high points of political god-fatherism in Anambra State, nobody can deny the fact that both governors were eminently qualified to run the affairs of the state.
In fact, to be qualified to run the state you must have made your mark in your chosen area of competence or comparative advantage, either in the academia, business/economy, politics; private or public service, name it. So, Anambra is like the trajectory other South Eastern states among others that crave for excellence want to use to find their bearing.
This narrative is significant for us to appreciate the calibre of candidates that are lining up to be made governor on November 18 by Ndi Anambra.

But the history of modern Anambra political journey will not be complete if we fail to capture the role played by late Nigerian statesman and Biafra warlord, Dim Chukwuemeka Odimegwu-Ojukwu who, through the instrumentality of the APGA, envisioned the Anambra of tomorrow.
Ojukwu thought of a party that would capture the real essence of the Igbo in the Project Nigeria without necessarily braking away from the union. He saw in APGA a strong negotiation tool and mouth piece for Ndi-Igbo and had wanted the people to congregate around the party to pursue their destiny in Nigeria.

APGA was not only tested in Anambra, but has remained such a big success story ever since it was planted in the heart of Ndi Anambra by Ojukwu as regards meeting their leadership and developmental needs.
Fast forward to the eight years of former Governor Peter Obi under whose tenure APGA was first tested, you will appreciate while the governor is either wasting his time in PDP or would soon get frustrated and exit himself.

APGA’s journey over the years has no doubt, been tortuous. Even while Ojukwu was still alive and politically active, APGA’s journey was with issues like what anyone can see in other political parties. During the tenure of the pioneer Chairman of the party, Chekwas Okorie, there were issues that tended to tear the party apart, but reason prevailed that made it possible for APGA to be retrieved from the jaws of those who were out to tear it apart.

That is why the coming election in November 18 is for Obiano to lose. The contest is between Obiano and the rest and all the contenders know that as fact. Call it incumbency factor, but it goes beyond that because the election is between APGA that has done so much for Ndi Anambra in the past 12 years and the other parties that are pursuing personal vendetta, and possibly cannot be trusted having shown they are green snakes in green grass.
Obi, no doubt is one of the greatest beneficiaries of what APGA stands for. His rise to political limelight is linked more to his membership of APGA than his so-called current appellation of political sagacity and sense of prudence in management of state resources.

Yes he did his best for Anambra as governor under APGA, but that he wants the party dead by all means tells a lot about his politics. Granted, he handed over to Obiano who has just done four years, but should Obiano whose second term will also come and go be the issue or the party that fielded Obiano which will remain forever if properly managed?

To be candid, the fact that Obi reportedly wrecked up issues that tended to undermine the health and survival of APGA in the build up to the coming governorship poll, including the recent alleged sponsorship of the court case initiated by Martins Agbaso, goes to show he pays lip service over his love for Ndi Anambra that trusted him so much with their mandate under APGA for eight years.

If Obi does not know, the body language of most eligible Anambra electorate is that his preferred candidate, Oseloka Obaze of the PDP will be rejected on November 18, not because Ndi Anambra hate him, but because the masquerade behind him is seen as a betrayer of APGA course which he was a huge beneficiary.

The insinuations that other parties are thinking of going into unholy alliance just to stop Obiano won’t even fly. Why? That alliance if takes place will go a long way in exposing to the people of Anambra who their real enemies and agents of darkness are.

But that alone is hardly the fear. What Ndi-Anambra should be more concerned about is the federal might that comes in the form of police, military, and civil defence. Thy are usually deployed as protection for the candidate of the party at the centre, today the APC, apparently to “arrange” victory for Nwoye.
My take is that the Anambra electorate must be vigilant by resisting every attempt to compromise the election. They must also keep keen eye on the officials of the INEC most of who are experts in result manipulation.

The APGA leadership and particularly the Victor Umeh-led Willie Obiano election committee had done well to sensitise Ndi Anambra on the need for continuity for Obiano. They have visited all the councils, wards, town hall associations, religious associations, market groups, schools and what have you, to extract their buy in. They have also got endorsement even from unusual quarters for Obiano to continue for another four years.

All these efforts must not be allowed to be truncated by a gang of politicians, no matter how highly placed, operating within Anambra and from Abuja who will feel good if the joy APGA has brought to Ndi Anambra in the past 12 years and still ready to sustain, is terminated . APGA has been awake in Anambra since the days of Ikemba Nnewi. The time for it to sleep cannot be now. Never!
––Ubochi, a political analyst wrote from Owerri.